The Myth of Minimum Viable Product

Joe Procopio
6 min readJan 10, 2019
Yeah. She’s mad at your app.

Let’s clear up what a minimum viable product (what the insiders call an MVP) should and shouldn’t be.

To give a little bit of context, MVP didn’t originate in the startup world, but it has gained traction in startup, allowing small companies with limited resources to get to market quickly and prove out product ideas.

The goal of MVP is to get a barebones version of your product out to market for real customers to buy, use, and break. Then you clean up the failures, fix the weak points, and most importantly, figure out where your customers find value and where they don’t.

Make no mistake, I’m a big believer in the MVP concept. In fact, I’d call myself a die-hard zealot. That said, I’ve definitely seen the concept abused, especially over the last few years, and I’m noticing the definition of MVP has been altered slightly. It’s becoming a means to and end. And that’s dangerous.

An MVP is indeed meant to be the quickest version of the product you can put out to market. But when I use the word “quickest” here, that reduction in time to market is achieved by a reduction in feature set, not a reduction in quality.

Lately, I’m seeing the pendulum swing away from quality too often.

To illustrate what an MVP should look like, let’s take a semi-fictional example that’s easy to follow. If we were building Uber from scratch, before any kind of ride-hailing app existed, it would be a massive and prohibitively expensive undertaking to build the technical and operational infrastructure needed to support a ride-hailing app service. How much money? Don’t know. Never been done. But a lot.

Assume we will need tens of millions of dollars to prove Uber will work as intended. Our startup is not going to get anywhere near that kind of seed money unless we can prove the model works and people will eventually turn Uber into a verb. It’s chicken and egg.

Unless we turn to an MVP.

Now, I don’t know if this is how it was actually done. I wasn’t there. But for the purposes of our example, let’s say it went down like this:

The MVP might be a simple app with a big button to hail for a ride. The customer’s location is pinpointed automatically with their mobile device…

Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at